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IN THE TEMPLE OF DENDERAH           197
which those priests prided themselves, it was the astronomical one.
The explanation is that the Egyptians copied part of their zodiac from one which had previously existed at Denderah, whose temple had been built and rebuilt more than twice. A unique astronomical record of this character would have been copied and recopied to ensure its preservation. And this was done with other ancient records, too, which were first slowly forgotten and later disappeared with the disappearance of the record-keepers, i.e. the ancient priesthood.
Archaeologists working in Mesopotamia have dug up ancient Chaldean brick tablets upon which the astronomers of Chaldea had noted that spring began when the sun entered the constellation of the Bull. As, during the Christian era, at least, spring begins when the sun enters Aries, i.e. about March list, the implication is that such a tremendous change of climate, dates the Chaldean civilization as one of immense antiquity, an antiquity which the Chaldeans themselves claimed. Similarly, by its markings of the position of the equinox, the Denderah zodiac points to some epoch of antiquity which stretches back, not by centuries, but by hundreds of centuries! It thus dates early Egypt's civilization. For the position indicates that more than three and a half "Great Years" have been passed on the cosmic dial; that the sun has revolved around its parent sun no less than three and a half times.
As careful checking of astronomical statistics has ascertained that the average rate of the precession of the equinoxes is about 50.2 seconds per year, we can calculate backwards and work our way around the whole circle of the heavens until we reach the point indicated by the Denderah zodiac position. There are 360 degrees in the grand circle of the zodiac and at the rate of precession 25,800 solar years would make one "Great Year.'*
Each complete revolution, therefore, takes no less than 25,800 years, and short calculation reveals that at least 90,000 years have passed since the date marked on the zodiac of the temple of Denderah.
Ninety thousand years! Is such a figure really incredible, really impossible? The Egyptian priest-astronomers did not think so; for Herodotus, the Greek historian, tdls us that they informed him that their people considered their race to be the most ancient of mankind, and that they had kept in their sacred colleges and temples their own records extending